Firefly Rain
Richard Dansky

Wizards of the Coast Discoveries
Trade Paperback 384pp $21.95
Review by David Simms

Firefly Rain is probably the first novel I’ve ever reviewed that was written by someone who made his mark in videogaming, also role-playing writing, overall design and author of the T-shirt “Don’t Tell Me About Your Character.” Funny how character pervades this beautifully written novel – I guess the shirt must have been turned inside-out or in the wash during the construction of this gem. Dansky developed several games for White Wolf Inc. (Wraith, Oblivion) and even farther from horror writing, current serves as “Central Clancy Writer” for Red Storm Entertainment (Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, etc.).

Why all the video game details? Simple – I’m still scratching my head over how someone who spends the majority of his time with detail oriented, tech wizardry, and plain old weaponry and spells from all eras can produce something like this.

Add to the equation that Dansky took one of the most tired tropes in the annals of horror – the haunted house. Unless the author creates The Overlook Hotel, Hill House, or produced interesting fare such as Ghost Story, The House, or House of Leaves, chances are that we’ve seen it all before or just don’t care enough to plow through it with interest.

All of this would lead you to think that a reviewer would trash this first novel. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review – not something to be taken lightly, especially for a small press horror novel. After about 10-20 pages, you’ll understand why. Jacob Logan returns to his hometown of Mayfield, North Carolina, after some personal problems arise up north. Sounding more like a Southern Gothic? Kinda, but not really. Like a bad country song, all goes to hell in a hand basket for Jacob – his stuff gets torched, is visited by a creepy grounds keeper, something messes with his car, etc. There’s a woman involved, too but she’s not a demon (keep an eye on her in case there’s a sequel, though!). The real horror comes in beautiful fashion that lends the novel its name – the fireflies cannot land on his property for some reason. When they are brought within the confines of whatever’s screwing with him, the insects die.

Without giving up spoilers, the novel twists and turns into a true southern treat and worthy of what will hopefully be massive distribution. I met the author at World Horror during a signing – quiet, unique, but something dark lurked behind his eyes, just like his writing (although I think he was just worried about what I’d say here!).

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